The Canape' Park in Foligno
The public garden is in an artificially raised area of ground inside the old city walls, between Porta Romana and Porta Todi. In the 13th century the area was on the same level as the outside of the walls. The raised conformation of the park we see today is the result of two centuries of rubble dumped here between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Three important buildings once stood near the area occupied by the gardens today. A Benedictine monastery later used as the episcopal seminary until the early 19th century stood to the east. This building was later taken over by the Salvati printing firm. To the north stood the monastery of Santa Chiara, allegedly founded by St Francis. Today this area is occupied by the Santa Caterina primary school and a gym. Two towers punctuated the walls to the south, the Torrione del Cassero (later Torre del Seminario) and the Torre Montanara (now a bar).
How the Park Came Into Being
On September 14th 1776 the city council was presented with a report concerning the poor state of repair of the city walls. Several of the city's notables decided to restore the walls at their own expense, both in order to have a place where they could meet and stroll together and to avoid the restoration costs having to be footed by the general population.
Among the various restoration and building works that were carried out, eighty canape'-shaped benches were placed along the walls, complete with head and arm rests in brickwork. The names of the owners of the seats were inscribed on the canape's and are still visible today. The first three were reserved for those who signalled the start of the horse races. Seats 4 to 15 were reserved for the city's different areas, while the remainder were allocated to private citizens. The seats have been in place since 1777 and are still usable today. The park was officially opened with a magnificent inauguration ceremony in 1778.
The Pope and the Royal Princes at the Canape's
On his way back to Rome after having been imprisoned the French, the Pope was given a warm welcome at Foligno in May 1814. People came from all over Umbria and the Marches. Celebrations continued for three days, with specially commissioned lighting and fireworks paid for by the city authorities. A horse race was organised on the Saturday, along the promenade.
In 1847 Foligno organised celebrations for 500 people at the Canape' park to honour the political amnesty conceded by Pope Pius IX at the beginning of his reign.
In 1861 the park was visted by the Savoy Princes Umberto and Amedeo.
An Amusement Park as from 1800, with a Circus, Horse Racing and Cycling
In the second half of the 19th century the Canape' park developed into a place used for popular entertainment. In 1834 there was the ‘gran circo Guillaume’, featuring Indian games and Chinese boats. In 1865 the park was taken over by a company of American trapeze artists and iron bridge acrobats. In 1886 the park hosted one of its first horse trials, along with a horse show and market. In 1906 one of the earliest, largely comical, short film projections was held here.
Towards the end of the 19th century cycling gained popularity as the new sport of the masses. Like other Italian cities, Foligno played a part in spreading the sport. In 1889 the Club velocipedistico was founded, to oversee the construction of a cycling track at the park where races could be held. 555-metres long, the track remained an attraction for Umrian cyclists and Foligno supporters for a long time.
Given that the park is located in the centre of town, visitors are advised to take a tour of the city's other sights.
The most comfortable place to stay, as well as eat, is the Hotel Ristorante Le Mura Via Mentana 25 Foligno.
Tel. (+39) 0742.354.648 – 0742.355.298 (closed Tuesdays).
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